Monday, April 26, 2010

The Harvest is Growing... Lord bring the workers!

I'm beginning to feel like a broken record but I have to say it again... God is so great! This week we get to praise Jesus because two more have been added to the Kingdom! Michael Cornelius, a 15 year old self described atheist has been attending The Pathway with friends for months and months. Over the past few weeks it has been obvious that the Holy Spirit has been drawing him to salvation. Today I was mowing the lawn and Michael came walking through our gate. We started chatting and he began telling me how he and about 5 or 6 other students want to form a leadership team and start reaching more students and stepping up in their leadership roles. I said, "That's great Michael... so have you decided to place your faith in Jesus for salvation yet." He said he really thought he was going to be ready soon. I asked him what he was waiting for and after he began sharing his story with me a bit he said, "You know what, I think I'm ready now!!!" Praise Jesus... now he is ready to lead!

Jessica is also a teenager that Tiffany has been sharing Jesus with. Becca H. has started a new high school girls Bible study on Thursdays and while Kelli and I were at a conference in California this week we got a call from Becca and Tiffany telling us that Jessica had put her faith in Jesus!!! Well the story doesn't end there. Jessica spent the night at our house this weekend and I was able to talk with her mom on the phone. Her mom had tons of questions for me and I was able to share the gospel with her and invite her to place her faith in Jesus and come to our Sunday night Bible study. She has not yet decided to follow Jesus... yet... but she did come to Bible study yesterday and she showed a lot of excitement. Please pray for Vitha and Jessica!

God is continuing to grow our current groups. He has provided us with more leadership for our Friday night student gathering and new direction for our Monday and Tuesday studies. We've been averaging 10 at our Sunday night gathering and tonight we had 20!!! Please continue to pray simply for "life change." That has been our prayer since The Pathway's birth and God has been so faithful to provide exactly that!

Finally-- I want to leave you with an excerpt from an article written by Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love & The Forgotten God, describing what God has been teaching him about the church. It sums up beautifully our vision for Tacoma & beyond. Please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts, agreements & disagreements about the true nature of the church.

Practically, I'm toying with the idea of starting a network of gatherings that meet in homes in order to practice the commands of Scripture. They could watch sermons via DVD or have a leader give the lesson. They may even sing together. But the gatherings wouldn't stop there. They would discuss how to live out the sermon in their neighborhood. They would also pray for each other. They would take communion and remind each other of the mission. They would meet the needs of the members of their group and their unsaved neighbors. Rather than coming to church, they would be the church-- not in a sacred building, but in their neighborhoods. Occasionally, we could all gather in an auditorium or stadium to celebrate and worship collectively.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"I want to be one of your first church members..."

This week we began to see the first fruits of the harvest we believe God is desiring to bring through our relationship with the Tacoma Rescue Mission's transitional community called Tyler Square. We have been hosting "Family Night" at Tyler Square the last Thursday of every month. Our prayer has been that through those times we will be able to make friends, share Jesus with people and eventually connect them with existing small groups and then start a small group at Tyler Square. The long term prayer is that Tyler Square will become a launching pad for new believers being sent back out into our city.

Well, Kelli has connected with very nice single mom who is extremely interested in getting to know God. She has come to one of our Bible studies and has joined us for dinner at our home. Most recently God has connected us with Orlando. Orlando is from Cuba and has recently found himself at Tyler Square with his young daughter Mariella. The first time I met Orlando I was inviting him to Tyler Square and he yelled at me to go away and that he was not interested in that kind of stuff. Over time and through the power of the Holy Spirit Orlando began attending our Family Nights and he and his daughter came to our Good Friday Gathering. Finally, last week, he called me and told me that he knows God but hasn't been living for him in a long time. He said, "I want to come back to Jesus. I want to be one of your first church members."

Wow! Orlando and his daughter came to our small group Sunday night and he is excited about helping us start a group at Tyler Square.

Something to be praying about is our Monday group that was started by Antwon. After growing to about 6 in attendance it has dwindled and Antwon has been struggling to keep his passion. Please pray that a new shot of energy will be shot into the Monday group and God will begin using it to reach people for Jesus!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What to do?

It's Sunday morning just becoming afternoon and I'm sitting at Tully's Coffee feeling incredibly excited, somewhat anxious and slightly overwhelmed by all that God is calling us to be and do. It's a testament to God's grace that I'm able to function on a daily basis because my mind is constantly bouncing back and forth between what I WANT to do, what I'm SUPPOSED to do, what I NEED to do and what GOD has actually told me to do. I'm pretty sure if there were 42 hours in the day instead of 24 hours my dilemma would not change.

Leading is CHOOSING.

Following Christ is SUBMITTING.

If we are to follow Christ AND lead others in a lost and dying world to do the same I'm convinced that we will have to CHOOSE to SUBMIT to Jesus and ignore what we want to do, need to do and are supposed to do and just do what God has told us to do. Doing this, or even considering this, leads to my original statement...

I'm "incredibly excited, somewhat anxious and slightly overwhelmed."

So what does this mean for The Pathway? Well, if I knew for sure I'd be in really good shape but here's what God has been doing and how you can be praying. First-- we are committed to being an EFFECTIVE and MULTIPLYING church. We believe God has called us to do this by starting small groups throughout our city that live and function individually as the church but are just as much the church when gathered together. We are also CERTAIN that God has not called us to reach the reached... he's told us to reach the lost and unchurched. So here's the question...

How can we start small groups (churches) throughout the city of Tacoma (and beyond) if we're only reaching the lost and unchurched?
1) Those of us who already know Jesus must focus not only on reaching more lost people but teaching new believers how to share their faith, teach what they know, and lead small groups.

2) We MUST, amazingly enough, TRUST the HOLY SPIRIT! If we continue to set the "spiritual" bar for leadership so high then we cannot reach the lost, poor & broken of our world and expect them to reach others. We must lower our bar for leadership and raise our FAITH in Jesus to a whole new level. New believers must be empowered to lead and reproduce themselves from day 1, not after they've gone through years of "discipleship" and theological training... that is why we are losing the battle.

Ask me in a week if I'm living this out. I'm going to be asking our leaders if they're living this out. We all need accountability. We all need to sacrifice. We need to lead. We need FAITH!

I'm "incredibly excited, somewhat anxious and slightly overwhelmed" but my FAITH is increasing by the grace of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Taste of the Harvest

Thank you all for continuing to pray for us as we do our best to follow Jesus and specifically for praying for our Good Friday gathering. As usual God did not do things the way I had it planned out in my head but he did answer our prayers and do more than we asked or imagined!

Friday started out a little rocky to say the least. First of all it was one of the nastiest, cold and rainy days we've seen in a while. Because God has been saving souls we were excited to be able to baptize some people Friday and The Commons Church up in Arlington, WA allowed us to use their portable baptistery. Unfortunately, when we went to put it together Friday morning I realized we had forgotten a major piece!!! Arlington is about an hour and half from Tacoma if there's no traffic so we hit the road and thankfully The Commons Pastor (Tim Corbin) met me half way so we didn't waste the entire morning!

The complications had already begun because one of our leadership team came down with mono the week before (Becca E.) so she was not able to come and another one of our main helpers (Matt B.) got a new job and had to work. Things were shaping up to be pretty rough. However, somehow God kept me calm (not usual for me) and we were able to remember how much he has done without us to this point... why let our worries and attitudes get in the way!

Well, long story short we had a great turn out (not really sure of the numbers) plenty of help setting up and tearing down, the baptistery was perfect and we were able to baptize 8 people... 2 of whom made a public profession of faith that night for the first time! Now the work begins as we attempt to follow up on the connections we made and see if God desires us to start a new group or two. The journey is far from over but another milestone has been accomplished. Praise be to our God and Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for the work that is being done. God alone is the initiator and the redeemer. It's fun to walk with you all through this process!